SOCIETY OF CELTIC SHAMANS
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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Category: Shamanism


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Aren't you really just 'ripping off' Native American traditions when you say you teach a shamanic path?

It is true that when one hears the word shaman the picture most usually called to mind is that of an elderly First Nations American man wearing a mask and beating a drum. In reality, most First Nations 'shamans' do not use that term at all. They prefer the term Medicine Man or Medicine Woman. Shamanism is practised all over the world and no one clan or tribe, people or nation can claim to have the exclusive right to practice and teach the shamanic traditions. But it is important that each clan and tribe, each nation and people teach their own traditions. top



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Where does the word 'shaman' come from?

The word shaman actually come to us from Siberia where is was used by the indigenous people of that area. It was only in modern times that anthropologists brought the term into general usage. top

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What does the word 'shaman' mean?

Shaman means' spirit-walker' or 'walker between the worlds'. There is a feminine form - shamanka - which is not generally used because to do so would be confusing. top

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How old is shamanism?

Shamanism is the world's oldest spiritual path. We have cave paintings dating back to the Stone Age showing shamans dressed in animal skins and antlers, surrounded by the animals, just as they are depicted today. top

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Why do you call it a spiritual path instead of a religion?

I call this form of contacting the Sacred a spiritual path rather than a religion for several reasons. First, the word religion usually implies a standardized body of belief. While it is true that the same general beliefs are held by shamanists throughout the world there is no system of standardization, unless one considers Harner's groundbreaking work in the field to be an attempt at such a system. Secondly, in a religion there is usually a credo as statement of what the followers of that particular religion believe. Although the shamanic world view and the spiritual values arising from that view are very similar the world over this view and these values do vary from place to place and epoch to epoch. Finally, most religions have rule books, standards of behaviour which must be strictly followed in order to obtain the final goal of that religion - whether that goal be salvation, enlightenment, or eternal union with Deity. Shamanists do not generally see the world in terms of sin and grace but rather in terms of conduct which is honourable and/or dishonourable, allowing each individual to express their own code of ethics in accordance with her/his own conscience. top

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What is a shamanist?

A shamanist is a person who is not a shaman but who subscribes to the world view and spiritual values that are generally agreed to be shamanic. top

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What do shamans believe?

Shamanism is based on the belief that everything: the deer and the forest, the spider and the web, the salmon and the pool, the bee and the flower, the flame and the hill, the winds of heaven and the earth beneath our feet, the rainbow and the crystal, the serpent and the eagle, you and I and everyone and everything are all one thing. All is One and One is All and the One and the All are contained within the heart and mind of the Dreamer of the Shining Dream.

Shamanists believe there are worlds other than the one we see about us and experience with our physical senses. We believe that each of those worlds is inhabited by Otherworldly beings. We believe that through spiritwalking the shaman can enter those Otherworlds. top

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What are these Otherworlds and how do you get to them?

All over this world, from Siberia in the North to Africa in the South, form Mongolia in the East to British Columbia in the West, shamans speak of the Great Tree, the World Tree, the Tree of Life, the Axis Mundi. The roots of the Great Tree grow down into the Underworld. The trunk grows in Middle Earth and the branches spread into Upperworld.

Underworld is within the Earth. This region bears no resemblance to the Christian's hell. The Underworld is lit by the stars within the Earth. Here dwell the Ancestors. Shamans travel to Underworld to learn the deep wisdom contained within blood and bone, wisdom traditioned to us from the Ancestors by way of the pattern of life itself, DNA.

Middle Earth is the spiritual dimension of this world. This is the realm of the faeries, devas, elementals and dragons. Here we learn how to use the energies of this Earth for healing and balancing ourselves, others and our Mother Earth. Upperworld surrounds Middle Earth in the same way that Middle Earth surrounds Underworld. The Upperworld is also called the Shining Country or the Bright Realm. Here dwell the Shining Folk, animal guides, and the Gods and Goddesses our Ancestors called upon. Here we learn all spiritual truths and to lift our eyes to the stars. top

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Isn't shamanism really just for Native Ameicans, Australian Aborigines, Hawaiians and other First Nations people? Haven't we Euro decendants evolved beyond all that?

Long, long ago, in the dawn times all tribes were hunter/gatherers. We all lived nomadic lives within our territories. If you could remember your life in those times you would recall how you hunted the fur folk, trapped the fin and feather folk, and gathered the green folk. All fed you. After a time you died and your body returned to the elements and was food for the green folk. The green folk you fed, fed the fur and fin and feather folk. And these would feed your descendants who would also die in their time. Thus the great circle of life was maintained. And thus the great circle of life IS maintained, even though we have forgotten this.

In those dawn times it was very important for the folk to know where the deer and the boar, the salmon and the goose, could be easily found. Travelling to the Shining Country, the shaman could speak with the animal spirits to discover where the hunters could find those animals who were willing to share their lives with the folk. The shamans could also bring back news from the Inworlds. Stories of the animals and the elementals. Stories of the Shining Folk, the High and Lordly Ones. Advice from the Ancestors in times of trouble or need. The shaman also met with the Green Folk in the Shining Countries. From them shamans learned the healing properties of the herbs and which plants were willing to share their lives with us. top

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What is a mediator?

Mediator - from the Latin medi?, to be in the middle. A mediator stands between this and Otherworlds and acts as a conduit for Otherworldly energies to enter into this world. top

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What is the 'Great Work' of the Shaman today?

This is the Great Work of the Shaman: To make and mend, to help and heal. To dwell in the perfect shining moment, in the heart of the mystic rose, and be love inaction. top

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If I wanted to become a shaman how could I go about it today?

In past times becoming a shaman was simple. When a child showed signs of unusual shamanic abilities the clan's shaman would go to that child's family and ask to be allowed to raise the child. The child would then be taught all of the wisdom of their foster-father or mother.

Today, it is not as easy to develop one's shamanic gifts. It is hard to find a teacher, especially if you are of European descent. You may study what is called core shamanism which includes the methods of Michael Harner. You may study with a First Nations or Aboriginal Medicine Man or Medicine Woman.

But all too many of European descent have found that these paths eventually lead to dead ends. Core shamanism is generic and there is no such thing as a generic Ancestor. The paths of the First Nations folk lead to the tepees, hogans and wickiups of their Ancestors.

Unless you are of both European and First Nations ancestry you cannot make the deep connections that the shaman must make with their Ancestors by following the ancestral paths of the First Nations Folk. These connections can only be made through the blood and through the bone, through the DNA.

If you are interested in walking the path of the Celtic Shaman you may interested in reading some books on the subject to help get you started. We have a great bibliography to help you out.

Or you may want to join the public e-list at celticshaman@yahoogroups.com. If you wish to delve more deeply into the Celtic Shaman's path you might want to consider the Faery Shaman's Apprenticeship Program or the Oak Grove Ogham Masters Program. top

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Just who are my Ancestors anyway? Are they my grandparents?

In this life your ancestors consist of ALL the human beings from whom you are descended. Who you are, the very pattern of who you are - your DNA - comes to you from your ancestors. Through the vehicle of DNA, your ancestors are physically and psychically present in your blood, your bone, in every cell of your body. top

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I believe I have lived many times before and in many different cultures and ethnic groups, can't I connect to my Ancestors along any path?

There is much truth in this. One does, however, need to consider this fact, you chose to be born in this life in the physical body you presently occupy. And this physical body you chose contains the DNA patterns of those who were the ancestors of your body. You could have chosen to be born in Tibet or India. You might have chosen to be born into a family of First Nations folk or Australian Aborigines. But you did not. Given this, perhaps it is best to trust your choice and learn to walk in the paths of your present life physical ancestors. top

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Why would anyone today what to learn about shamanism?

Do we need to know where the animals wait for the hunter in the Greenwood? We can go down to the butcher's or to the super-market when we need meat. Have we the need to know the healing properties of herbs? We can go to the pharmacy when we need medicines. Is there any longer a need for the shaman to stand between the worlds and balance their energies? We have churches made of glass and steel and stone to provide us with spiritual sustenance.

Why, then, do we feel so empty? Why do our bodies sicken and our spirits faint within us? Why do we feel the need to seek the paths of wisdom in the camps of other tribes, only to discover that their ways are closed to us, their doors barred? We have forgotten the paths to our own Ancestral wells of wisdom. Long ago we bolted the doors and locked them and then we threw away the keys that would open them once again. Because we no longer walked in the old ways the paths to the Otherworlds grew choked with with weeds and trees grew up and now we can barely discern where those paths led.

But is not too late! Today there are many who are working to clear the choked pathways and rediscover the lost keys. A few of the rusted locks have been opened. Some of the ancient doors are now flung wide to admit the spiritwalker to the Faerie Realms. Once again the Faery voices call to us. If you hear that song, high and clear, ringing like silver bells across space and time, know that they are calling to you. You would not feel drawn to Faerie if they were not calling you.

If you hear and heed this call there is great work for you to do as a Faery Shaman. How to begin? You may wish to read some of the books listed in the master bibliography. You may join the Oak Grove and meet the others there who are walking the path of the Celtic Shamans. Whatever path you choose may you find one hundred thousand blessings along your way. top

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Do shamans play a role in the rural community with regards to healing the sick and the disabled?

Shamans help and heal, make and mend. They are healers, counsellors and the spiritual leaders of their folk. This is true in rural communities as well as in urban areas. Before taking up a healing practice, though, it is best to understand how shamanic healing works and to be firmly based in the ethics of healing. top

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Can a disabled person (physically, in a wheelchair)be a celtic shaman. What are your views of disabled people in general?

Shamans are mediators between this and Otherworlds, moving about in a wheelchair in this world does not prevent anyone from travelling into the Shining Realms. As for my views on disabled people in general, I feel that there are many kinds of disabilities and the ones that are most visible (i.e. physcial disabilities) are seldom the most serious. Of handicaps, which is worse, that someone cannot walk with their legs or that someone cannot love with their heart? Is the person who cannot hear with their ears more disabled than the person who refuses to listen when a friend speaks of their need? Is the one who cannot see with their eyes more disabled than the one who looks away from the homeless and refuses to see those in need of help and healing? top

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Why Do You Have So Many Copyrights Notices On Your Webpage?

Since I first published the Society of Celtic Shamans homepage in 1997 others who are creating pages devoted to the Faery Faith and Celtic Shamanism have stolen my FAQ pages and published them as their own, giving me no credit and pretending they wrote the material themselves. This is called plagiary. It is against the law. I always do find out when someone has stolen my pages. I e-mail them and ask them to remove the pages and they always reply they did not know the material was protected by copyrights law. I am tired of this excuse. By posting a copyrights notice after every FAQ answer no one can pretend ignorance. top

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Copyright © 1997-2004 Tira Brandon-Evans and content providers. The FAQ on this page are protected by copyright © 1997-2004 Tira Brandon-Evans. All rights reserved. International copyright laws prohibit reproduction of or distribution of this page by any means, electronic or otherwise, without first obtaining the written permissions of the copyright holders. We retain legal counsel to enforce our copyrights.